Theresa May lasts just 30 seconds when asked on Marr 'not to use soundbites'

Tom Peck

In his very first question to the Prime Minister, the BBC’s Andrew Marr said: “Can we agree to start with is the one thing that voters deserve is no soundbites?”

It took her 30 seconds to bring up ”‘strong and stable leadership”, the campaign slogan which has been repeated so endlessly it has become a source of ridicule for Theresa May.

Arguably, the Prime Minister has refused this no-soundbites request within zero seconds, her very first answer beginning with the words, “This is the most important election the country has faced in my lifetime,” itself a campaign slogan that has been repeated ad infinitum.

Later, in particularly awkward scenes, Mr Marr told her, “People can listen to that sort of thing and think it’s a bit robotic.” The Prime Minister floundered for an answer, before again repeating her line on leadership.

In the interview may also gave her clearest signal that she will scrap the Conservatives' pledge not to raise certain taxes in the party's general election manifesto.

The Prime Minister said she did not want to make specific proposals unless she was sure she could deliver on them, after being asked whether she would stick to the Tories' 2015 promise not to raise income tax, VAT or national insurance.

The "tax lock" pledge has proved troublesome for Chancellor Philip Hammond, who was forced into a humiliating U-turn after last month's Budget when a revolt from backbench Tory MPs made him ditch planned national insurance changes for the self-employed.

Ms May said she intends to cut taxes "on working families" if the Tories win on 8 June.

The PM told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "We have absolutely no plans to increase the level of tax but I'm also very clear that we don't want to make specific proposals on taxes unless I'm absolutely sure that I can deliver on those.

"But it would be my intention as a Conservative government and as a Conservative prime minister to reduce the taxes on working families."

Ms May also indicated she would scrap the pensions triple lock – another flagship 2015 pledge – but promised state pensions would continue to rise, with the exact way that is calculated revealed in the Tories' manifesto.

"Under a Conservative government the state pension will still go up every year of the next parliament," she said. "Exactly how we calculate that increase will be for the manifesto, and as I have just said you will have to wait for the manifesto to see what's in it."

The triple lock ensures the state pension increases in line with wages, inflation or by 2.5% – whichever is highest. But there have been mounting calls to scrap it, amid concerns over cost pressures.

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